JANUARY 17, 2022 has been identified as the most depressing day of the year, aptly named Blue Monday. But rather than focus on what makes us miserable, the Olive Press takes a look at the many reasons why you count yourself lucky for living in Spain.

One of the best healthcare systems in the world

Spain’s healthcare system is ranked seventh best in the world by the World Health Organization, higher than the United Kingdom. Healthcare in Spain is a constitutionally guaranteed right and there are no expenses apart from prescription medication. Although many complain of the long waits, a study published last year in the U.S. journal Health Affairs found that in Spain, there are a third fewer deaths caused by delayed access to health care than in the United States. Most people can be treated in Spain including illegal immigrants (unlike the UK), there are thousands of primary care centers even in remote villages and there are no co-payment charges. This is part of the reason why life expectancy in Spain is the highest in Europe but more on that later!

Costa del Sol, the sunniest part of Spain

The Costa del Sol is blessed with an average of 2,905 hours of sunshine every year. That is a total of 320 days out of 365 days in a year. According to the national meteorological agency, the sunniest part of Spain averages 31 degrees in summer and in the winter it only drops to an average of 17 degrees.   

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Costa del Sol Beach. Image: Rainer_Maiores Pixabay

16 National Parks

Spain has some of the most varied and beautiful protected landscapes in the whole of Europe. Visit flamingos in Doñana or ski in the Sierra Nevada national park.. Its mountains, rivers and streams extend for 90 kilometers creating a lush and thriving ecosystem. You can find waterfalls, gorges, forests and perpetual snow in the Parque Nacional Ordesa y Monte Perdido. Visit Spain’s highest peak, the Teide volcano in the Teide National Park in Tenerife, or walk past deer and under golden eagles in the Mediterranean forests in the Cabañeros national park.

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La Tiede National Park, Spain. Image: pixabay

UNESCO heritage sites

Spain has more than its fair share of UNESCO heritage sites that cover monuments, buildings and geological and physiographical formations. 

The buildings include the Works of Antoni Gaudí, the old town of Santiago de Compostela, Burgos Cathedral, Alhambra, Historic Centre of Córdoba. Prehistoric cave art in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde, cave of Altamira and paleolithic cave art of northern Spain is also included in the protected list. So are the ancient and primeval beech forests of the Carpathians along with the Risco Caído and the sacred mountains of Gran Canaria.

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stokpic Pixabay

Top organ transplant record

Spain has been the world leader in organ donation and transplantation for 27 straight years. Spain relies on the “opt-out” system. Many countries have implemented a “Spanish model” to increase the amount of organ donors after Spain’s success. Kidney is the most popular organ transplant, followed by liver then heart.

Fourth best country for expats to live and work

HSBC Expat Explorer Survey, the British company used feedback from 18,059 individuals who answered 27 online questions between February and March of last year. The report also highlights that 83% of foreign residents felt their overall wellbeing had improved in Spain, and that 62% had decided to extend their stay. Almost 61% of respondents said they felt more protected in Spain than in their home country. Weather was an important factor for 39% of expats and 56% said quality of life was the main reason they chose Spain.

Mediterranean diet recognized as one of healthiest in world.

Spain is the healthiest country in the world, at least according to the Bloomberg Healthiest Country Index. This is in part due to the Mediterranean diet, comprising of olive oil (which is rich in oleic acid which lowers cholesterol levels) and fruit, vegetables and salads as well as the traditional paella. Winter diets are made up of pulses, potatoes and stews which are very good for you.

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Famous paella. Image: Philippe Gama pixabay

Longest life expectancy in Europe

Spain and Italy had the highest life expectancy among EU countries, with life expectancy reaching over 83 years in 2018. By 2040, Spain is predicted to have the second best life expectancy in the world after Japan. The reason for this long life expectancy is believed to be influenced by the benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet. In the Predimed diet study, the amount of people suffering from major cardiovascular events was lowest in those who ate a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil or nuts than among those assigned to a reduced-fat diet. 

Best beaches

There are more than 5000 miles of coastline with the Blue Flag status awarded to more than 577 beaches around the country and islands. This status includes water quality and access for people with disabilities. Galicia has the most Blue Flags, with 131 given to its beautiful Atlantic beaches. There is great surf as well along the Iberian coastline, with many great surf spots including Playa de Razo, Rúa Paseo Arenal, Carballo and the famous A Coruña.  

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Spanish beach. Image: aidigital pixabay

Football crazy

Football is the most popular sport in the country and has nurtured many famous and great footballers over the years including Iker Casillas, Sergio Busquets and Sergio Ramos. There are 1,063,090 registered players and 21,148 registered clubs. There are two national Cups organized by the Royal Spanish Football Federation; the Copa del Rey and the Supercopa de España. The national team won the UEFA European Championship in 2008, the FIFA World Cup in 2010, and UEFA European Championship in 2012. The many regional teams’ means there’s always a match to watch. 

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FC Barcalona. Image: Holakram pixabay

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